On Thursday, our first day, we saw the body of a woman on the side of the road that we knew - "we're not in Kansas anymore!". She was just lying there with her shawl over her face and upper torso, legs toward us and surrounded by about 40 people. There was no clue, to our eyes, how she might have died or how long she`d been there, but clearly an unsettling sight for us.
Then yesterday we were introduced to some of the work done by the CRWRC (Christian Reformed World Relief Committee) -now called World Renew- and some of their partners. The work they do is deeply embedded in the Kenyan communities, and is amazingly complex and challenging. Nema, who we met in Edmonton last year, met us and drove with us to the Fadhili Trust Project. This organization was started less than 10 years ago by a woman named Josephine who could not bear to see people with HIV-AIDS ostracized, abandoned by their families, and left to suffer. She began with an in home care program. With the widespread use of ARV medicines for HIV positive persons, which is free, these HIV positive people are now able to live and work outside their homes. This allowed Josephine to take on new challenges including a clinic, sponsoring children for primary school education, health and sexuality education, and so much more.
We were introduced to a family who are refugees from Rwanda. (Bizimanna and Josephine). Both parents have university degrees, but the father suffered paralysis in his right arm that has prevented him from working. His own father is imprisoned in Rwanda. They are barely scraping by on what his wife makes by roasting and grinding peanuts and selling this ground powder for people to make sauces with. They have 4 children, the older three of which are sponsored by Fadhili Trust. Though primary education is free, the family must still be able to pay for school uniforms and books. They have been allowed to live for free in a small house on the property rented by Fadhili.
|This is Bizimanna, Josephine, and their youngest son. |
Josephine changed into her best clothes for the picture.
The second family we met was that of Anna, who is HIV positive, and two of her children Doreen and Calvin, who live right in the slum down the road from Fadhili. Her home is a tiny room about 8 to 10 feet square, partitioned off by a couple raggedy sheets, There were a few chairs, one single bed, a couple tiny tables, and various plastic containers holding dirty dishes and not much else. There was no food. She has no windows and no lights. Her oldest daughter is 16, but has abandoned her family and roams the slums. She recently beat on her mother, from which Anna is still recovering. Anna is ill and cannot work, though she continually looks for some odd job that could bring in a few shillings, Her other 2 children have been sent home from school because she cannot afford the cost of the uniform and books. Anna`s eyes are full of despair and hopelessness, yet she say she believes in God and that he has saved her soul.
|Anna and her children Calvin and Doreen outside her home|
|These schoolchildren just outside the slum are|
headed to a larger field up the road for exercise. They
were so excited to say hello to us!
|This is the street a few blocks from the Fadhili trust|
|Common to see these vendors all along the roads more on the outskirts of Nairobi.|